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January 13, 2003

In Praise of Joe Millionaire

Okay, okay-- yes deliberately deceiving twenty women in order to induce the worst gold-digging stereotypes, then yanking out the truth to humiliate them when forced to "choose between love and money" (when the whole setup was about love OF money) is a sign of the apocalyse, of cultural decline and depravity.

So what's to praise? Well, one notable thing from watching the first episode last week was the easy interracial dating involved. I haven't followed the "group dating shows" (The Bachelor etc.) closely, but many of the traditional TV dating shows like Blind Date have been almost scrupulously Jim Crow in their dating matchups. I remember a few years ago when MTV introduced its dating show, Singled Out, how radical it was on television to have couples paired so easily and obliviously to race, while the regular television dating shows did and usually continued to be so racially segregated in their matchups.

But then Joe Millionaire probably "dated" more women of color in last week's premiere than the whole cast of Friends has in its almost decade-long run. For all its cultural liberalism, the "good shows" on TV -- at least those not specifically aimed at non-white audiences -- are still notoriously white, showing a New York of astounding paleness as just one recurrent example.

Frankly, the shows disdained by upscale cultural liberals are actually far more racially diverse. Jerry Springer has far more racial diversity and interracial relationships than anything on primetime. It is almost only the cop show dramas, notably about working class characters, that have any serious racial diversity at an organic level (as opposed to the typical cute token character of color obviously designed to get the NAACP off the shows backs).

So maybe there is something positive in Joe Millionaire bringing integrated gold-digging to homes across America. Racial progress does come in odd packages.

Posted by Nathan at January 13, 2003 11:08 AM

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Good point Nathan. But did you know that male applicants for "Joe Millionaire" were screened by race? Evidently it's okay for a white man to date women of other races, well that's progress. But does it have to be a white guy? Frankly, there are so many disturbing things about "JM" that I believe they outweigh the positive element of interracial dating.

Posted by: Supergirl at January 13, 2003 12:34 PM

Hey if you have a URL on that, could you post it?

Posted by: Nathan Newman at January 13, 2003 01:10 PM

atrios had some details on that in a post from a couple of days ago...

Posted by: mark at January 13, 2003 01:16 PM

I don't know the racial makeup of the NYPD, but I'd guess it's quite a bit more white than on NYPD Blue (and other NY cop shows). It certainly serves the interest of a cop force commonly regarded as racist to be portrayed on TV as multi-ethnic, with the bosses usually not white. I also have my own belief that the show is anti-Semitic: even the good cops routinely refer to shylocks, and they had a Jewish DA whose function was to take abuse from the blue-collar cops. Dialogue always began "Hey, Cohen!" I guess that's less of a hot-button issue on prime time TV.

Posted by: John Isbell at January 13, 2003 03:07 PM

showing interracial dating a plus...sign of the apocalypse, probably not...there's enough in our present "real" lives...sign of cultural down-slide, no question, but you can't blame the dipstick when it says the oil is low.

Posted by: paul at January 14, 2003 03:24 AM

I don't have the URL, but as I recall Atrios was talking about a different (upcoming) show - an "around the world bachelor" sort of theme - not Joe Millionairre.

Still, I don't honestly believe there's a chance in hell that they would have cast a non-white guy in the lead on JM.

Finally, I think the large number of people of color (and also poor white folks) on Jerry Springer may be more about who's easiest to exploit in a racist, classist society, then about racial integration.

Posted by: Ampersand at January 14, 2003 04:53 PM

"Still, I don't honestly believe there's a chance in hell that they would have cast a non-white guy in the lead on JM."

Agreed, but wasn't this guy supposed to be a European prince or something? (Forgive my ignorance, I haven't watched any of it.) A black European prince would certainly be noteworthy, possibly even twigging the BS detectors on these gullible women.

They could've found a Latino guy to be a Spanish prince, I guess. Who wants to bet there'd be grumblings about "Latin lover" stereotypes in that case?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner at January 15, 2003 11:52 AM

Come on people, what does race play in all this? I'm so sick of everyone running to the racial thing. What about the bottom line that now it's entertainment to decieve and lie to 20 innocent women? We're telling our kids and future generations that there's entrainment value in this? And all everyone can talk about is race?

Sad day! What's next?

Posted by: Mark Carroll at January 16, 2003 09:07 PM

What about the fact that there were only 5 women of color out of the 20, and all of them were cut in the first two rounds.
While dating shows are still segregated, this is no where near being praiseworthy.

Posted by: Morrigan at January 25, 2003 03:24 PM

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